What's a normal amount of sleep?

Getting the right amount of sleep is really important to restore energy to our body and brain. But what’s the normal amount? There are signs that indicate you're sleeping well, and other signs that can indicate you’re sleeping badly or not enough. If you're sleep deprived there are things you can do to get back to a normal sleeping pattern.

A normal amount of sleep can feel like:

  • Being well rested when you wake up
  • Not being tired during the day
  • Having enough energy and an ability focus

Moonlight on beach

What’s the right amount of sleep?

Getting the ‘right’ amount of sleep is really important to our physical health and emotional well-being, as it restores energy to our body and our brain. In the longer term, not getting enough sleep can increase our risk of developing high blood pressure or diabetes and can reduce mood.

So what’s a normal amount of sleep then? After a lot of research, experts have developed guidelines around how much sleep people should get at night. These are:

  • Adults should get 7-8 hours per night
  • Up until someone reaches full maturity (around 22 or 23 years of age) they need more sleep than adults do; about 9 hours of sleep per night
Our teenage years are a period where there is a lot of rapid growth going on in the body, including in the brain. These extra hours of sleep each night allow the body to work on the final development of the brain and other parts of the body. 

However, keep in mind that everyone is different. Some people will find the recommended amount of sleep isn’t enough to keep them from becoming drowsy and losing focus during the day. While others will find they need fewer hours sleep than the recommended amount every night and can function perfectly well. As a general rule, however, it’s a good idea to try to get as close as possible to the recommended 9 hours.

Signs you’re getting enough good sleep 

  • You fall asleep within 20 minutes of lying down
  • You don’t usually wake up more than twice a night (which you may not even remember)
  • You don’t feel tired during the day
  • You’re able to focus on what you’re doing
  • You have enough energy throughout the day

When you’re not getting enough sleep, or you’re sleeping badly

There are some tell-tale signs that you’re not getting enough sleep. Interestingly, most people nowadays are actually sleep deprived to some degree.

Signs you’re not getting enough sleep include:

  • Having trouble paying attention a lot of the time
  • Having trouble concentrating on mental tasks
  • Have a reduced memory
  • Being more grumpy or moody
  • Having slower reactions to things than what is normal
  • Feeling consistently drowsy throughout the day

What to do if you’re not getting enough sleep

It's really important for our body and mind to get the normal amount of sleep. Things you can do to help you get the right amount of sleep are: 

  • Get into a sleeping routine. There are a whole bunch of things you can do to get yourself into a sleeping routine, including setting specific times that you go to bed and wake up each day. See the 'getting into a sleeping routine' fact sheet for more info. 

  • If you miss out on sleep, get back to your normal sleep pattern as soon as possible. If you’re sleep deprived, it’s not simply a question of sleeping a whole lot more the next night to catch up - try to get back to your normal pattern of sleeping as soon as you can. Keep in mind that we don’t ever adapt to getting less sleep than we need. Lots of people are used to not having enough sleep, but their judgement, focus, reaction time, and energy are all still  impacted.

  • Avoid naps. You want to be tired at bed time, and if you have a nap during the day, you may not be able to get to sleep later, meaning that you’ll be sleep deprived again the next day. It’s much better to go to bed earlier if you are really tired as one period of sleep in any 24-hours is much better for mood and refreshment.
If you are exhausted all the time, no matter how much sleep you’re getting, there may be something else going on. It’s worth visiting a GP – they’ll be able to check that there’s nothing else going on, and will have some tips for you on what to do. 

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 24 August, 2015
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